Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s plea seeking summoning of a former CBI official, who had recorded statements of two alleged rape victims in a 14-year-old case, for his testimony as a court witness.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit directed that CBI’s investigating officer (IO) K L Raina, now retired, be summoned as a court witness and examined before the lower court where the trial in the rape case is pending.
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“Let K L Raina be summoned and examined as court witness within four weeks from today,” the bench said. It said both parties would appear before the lower court on October 6 to decide the date of hearing for recording of deposition of the former CBI official, after which trial will proceed as per CrPC.
The sect figure-head said in his appeal that his right to fair and impartial trial was affected specially when he was denied the statements of two alleged victims as also his plea to examine Raina, who was the earlier IO of the case and had recorded the statements of the two women.
The plea said CBI’s refusal in examining Raina as a witness before the trial court had resulted in violation of Singh’s fundamental rights.
“Non supply of statements of the victims (prosecution witnesses 5 and 10) recorded by K L Raina, IO CBI, and declining to examine K L Raina by the court below as well as by the impugned judgment (of Punjab and Haryana High Court) is violative of (the provisions of) CrPC and also against the fundamental rights of the petitioner (Singh) guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution,” it said, adding the high court judgment was “perverse, arbitrary and liable to be set aside.”
The apex court had earlier dismissed Singh’s plea seeking more handwriting samples of an alleged rape victim in the case, asking whether a woman was available just because she wrote “Babaji, I love you”. It had said the tenor and the language of the letter allegedly written by the victim did not reflect consent at any point.
The rape case is currently pending in a CBI special court at Panchkula. The woman who alleged rape by Singh was an inmate of Ashram of Dera Sacha Sauda at Sirsa in Haryana. While the alleged incident occured in 1999, the FIR was lodged in 2002.
The plea of Dera Sacha Sauda chief seeking examination of Raina was declined by the High Court.